Microsoft Japan ran a trial in August 2019, when every Friday it closed the office and gave roughly 2,300 full-time employees a paid holiday. The result was an enormous jump in productivity. Based on sales per employee, workers were almost 40% more productive in the compressed hours of August 2019 as they were the same month a year earlier.
Other productivity hacks were also encouraged, including limiting meetings to 30 minutes and suggesting that instead of calling meetings at all, employees could more fully utilize software available for online collaboration.
On their day off, workers were encouraged to make use of the time by volunteering, learning, and taking rest “to further improve productivity and creativity,” In the coming months, another trial will run with slightly different parameters, the blog adds. This trial won’t cut hours in the same way, but rather suggests that employees focus on resting well and coming together to share ideas about how to work, rest, and learn.
Microsoft Japan’s trial is significant because it’s the biggest yet in terms of both staff numbers and the apparent effect on productivity. It’s caught the global imagination, perhaps, because Japan’s work culture is seen as particularly punishing.